California’s largest trees threatened by fire in Sequoia National Park

Photo of Amy Graff

Multiple wildfires started in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks on Sept. 9, 2021

Multiple wildfires started in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks on Sept. 9, 2021

NPS

-Updates: Get the latest information from the U.S. Forest Service.
-Park info: Get the latest details on Twitter and the parks’ website.

Sept. 14, 3 p.m. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued new evacuations Tuesday afternoon. 

See the evacuation map for Tulare County.

Sept. 14, 7:50 a.m. Two wildfires ignited amid a lightning blitz on Sept. 9 in California’s Sequoia National Park, a popular tourist spot that’s home to some of the world’s largest trees located about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.

The Paradise and Colony fires are collectively being called the KNP Complex and have raced through 3,024 acres as of Tuesday morning, with no containment, the U.S. Forest Service said. There was a third blaze, the Cabin Fire, that has now been extinguished.

Three Rivers, east of the intersection of Highway 198 and North Fork Road, was put under an evacuation warning on Monday. Only a year ago, the community that serves as a gateway to the parks was evacuated due to the Castle Fire.

The fires sparked on Thursday, and by Saturday, Sequoia National Park closed its Tulare County entrance. On Sunday, the park closed the Giant Forest, which has over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree standing 275 feet tall and with a diameter of 36 feet.

“The groves are threatened, but they’re not imminently threatened,” said Mark Ruggiero, a fire information officer for the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. “That’s a very big concern … the groves are a priority after life and safety.”

As of Tuesday morning, all of Sequoia National Park was shuttered. The closure could last for at least a week and possibly longer. Neighboring Kings Canyon National Park remains open.

“These fires are growing and have potential to affect park infrastructure and resources,” the Forest Service said in an incident overview posted online. “The parks are aggressively attacking these fires to suppress them.”

The blazes are located in steep, densely forested terrain that is highly flammable with thousands of dead trees. The Paradise Fire that crossed the Generals Highway last night was initially completely inaccessible from the ground, the National Park Service said. 

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